Just when you think you have seen every notebook cooler design conceivable short of using Dyson to manufacture them, there is always someone who will come along and prove to you that there are still some tricks in that magic bag to help improve on something that has been burning laps around the globe for quite a few years. I mean, we have seen large fan versions, versions with fans that could be placed anywhere you needed them, ones with fancy lights, and even a sad attempt from one company to add audio to a model to try to gain some of that market share of people who are seeking better active cooling for their notebook PCs.
One thing I have yet to see from any company is a way to address the air flow after it leaves the fan. Now I could get into a whole discussion of how most fans that are sold today work, but let me compare things simply for you. Think about it like this - most fans sold will put out a good amount of air flow, but without direction, it sort of makes a mushroom cloud of that air flow once it leaves the fan. This means that most of the air provided, even in a limited space, will waste most of that air as it escapes around what you are intending to cool. There are special fans being made now to help direct that air flow, but those usually come with a pretty hefty cost, and no one wants to spend more than $30 to $40 for a notebook cooler, since most of them don't perform so well anyways.
So, without breaking the bank to put in some high dollar version of fans, what other way could this have been addressed? Well, Thermaltake has delivered the Allways Control notebook cooler that offers a unique, but painfully obvious solution to addressing the air flow out of a normal fan, and to do so they are incorporating louvers. Indeed, something that simple and obvious is one way of addressing this issue, and I am really shocked it took this long for someone to try it out.
Now that isn't all Thermaltake brings to the table is directional air flow, but to learn about the rest of what the Always Control notebook cooler has to offer, you will just have to continue reading to find out the added features.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Starting off with what the provided chart covers, we are first given the CLN0043 model number in case searching the Allways Control name does not bring you to the tons of news hits that I saw. It specifies that this notebook cooler is capable of cooling and holding anything within the range of a ten inch to a 17 inch screen. Overall it measures 13.8 inches wide, 11.3 inches deep, and without the feet extended, it stands roughly two inches tall, and weighing in at 820 grams. The cooler is black, and it is made of mostly plastic, but adds an aluminum plate to the top for aesthetics, that offers a black anodized and brushed surface.
Thermaltake describe the pair of 70mm fans that actively cool the notebook on top of this unit, and they go on to give the 1300-2100 RPM rating, the 23.2 dBA of noise level, as well as showing the 17.6CFM of airflow and the 1.22mmH2O of pressure. What they don't discuss is what makes this cooler stand out. Along with a variable speed control dial, you are also given plastic louvers to allow you roughly 25 degrees from center in either direction to move the air flow to where it is needed most. Also since the louvers are so close to the exit of these fans, there is little escape for the air and will deliver more of that low CFM to the bottom of the notebook, and should help raise its efficiency.
This is the first time I can recall that by the time a sample has hit the lab for testing that I still have no idea on the pricing or the delivery date for the masses. All of the news back in July from the release shows that there wasn't a price yet set for this device, and that has yet to change. Going off of logic and a bit of Google-fu, since both other offerings in this series are demanding a price of $25 to $30 depending on the location you find them, I would have to assume that this Allways Control from Thermaltake will release at a similar price point.
Of course with the use of less aluminum in this new design, it may actually release a bit cheaper as well. At this point only time will tell, and I apologize for the lack of information available on this aspect of this cooler.
Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation
Typical Thermaltake packaging is used with the Allways Control notebook cooler as they delivered it in a black box with a bright red accent. There are some blue, white and purple tracers running across the panel and it has a large image of the cooler front and center. At the bottom, they list three features that should draw you to this product.
Both of the long sides of the box just offer the name of the cooler. As for the shorter side panels, they are just black with no naming or information.
The back of the packaging offers a multi-lingual listing of the same three features listed on the front. There is a main image showing the air flow of this design above the specifications chart. Then at the right, there are six images of the cooler showing off the things that Thermaltake designed into it.
Inside of the box, you will find the Allways Control wrapped in bubble wrap to keep it from being damaged. Of course this cooler was also shipped inside of another box, but it still arrives in perfect condition. Under the cooler you will find some documentation and the power cable for connectivity.
The power cable sent with this cooler is drawing the power from a pair of USB 2.0 ports on any notebook. That power is then sent through the cable to deliver it to the Allways Control via the mini-USB connection at the other end.
This is what Thermaltake sends along as an instruction manual. It is done in 12 various languages, but the instructions are easy and simple to follow. It just takes the installation of the cable, switching on the fan, and adjusting the louvers to fit your needs.
There is also the typical warranty information pamphlet sent along with this cooler. In here it describes what is and what isn't covered in the span of the one year warranty that the Allways Control cooler comes with.
Thermaltake Allways Control Notebook Cooler
Fresh out of the box this elegant looking solution has a lot going for it. There is a textured plastic used for the edges, an aluminum plate added to the top that is brushed then anodized black to match the rest of the cooler. Right in the middle side to side, but set back on the cooler, are the pair of fans with the louvers currently blocking the view of the fans under them.
It isn't just one set of louvers for the whole thing either. Each fan has the ability to have its air blowing the opposite direction, both straight up, or both can also be set to blow in the same direction. This will at minimum help you spread the air flow, and definitely take advantage of more of the air coming out of these fans.
This is the left side of the cooler, but I wanted to show the stock angle of the design. This gives users roughly a five degree angle of attack to the keys on the notebook that will sit on top of it.
Now that I have moved in much closer, we shall cover what this left side offers. There is a variable speed dial to control the fans speeds, a blue LED to indicate the Allways Control is powered, a DC in jack, but there is no cord provided, and lastly there is the mini-USB plug that works with the provided cabling.
In the middle of a large area that is inset from the rest of the plastic frame at the back, there are two levers. While you could just grab the louvers and angle them as needed, I strongly urge you to use the supplied lever to do so, not only is it smoother in operation, but you don't risk breaking one of the louvers this way.
Tt Dude decided he would stop at our labs to help with the rest of this review as he is standing in front of the right side of the cooler, now raised much higher with the feet extended. Now users have closer to a ten degree angle of attack, and it will also raise the screen another half of an inch higher, possibly making you sit with better posture as well.
Since you are going to give up two USB ports to power this cooler, it only makes sense that you get them back. Not only does Thermaltake replace them, they double it, and these are fully capable of charging mice, battery packs for phones, and even running high-end keyboards.
The bottom of the cooler is mostly thin until you get near where the fans draw in air. Due to the thickness of the fans inside of this cooler, there has to be room made for them. With this design, it still allows for amble air from the back, even if the feet are left as-is.
Allways Control Notebook Cooler Continued
The only bad thing about the extendable feet is that they are solid plastic and not coated at all for grip. In the normal position you had five rubber pads helping to keep this in place. With the feet extended, you only have the three at the front, and this does tend to wander a bit when used like this.
I also went ahead and peeled the cooler apart for a better look at what is going on. I found that the louvers are moved by a lever with full rings around the ends of each louver. This means they are much tougher to break, and they won't pop out of a clip and end up in the fans.
The lower section of the frame is where the fans, the power and controller PCB, as well as the USB port PCB is all attached. With the pretty basic wiring and the way it is run, there will also be no chance of them getting into the fans either.
Doing all of the work in the Allways Control cooler is a pair of these TT-7015 fans. While the specifications show that these draw 0.32 Amps, the fans say that they draw 0.20 Amps each.
After I was done with the inside of the cooler, I went ahead and put it all back together and powered it on to get measurements of the noise levels. At this point, I found the Allways Control to run at a maximum of 42Db.
With the notebook now on the cooler, you can get a better idea of what the wiring and connections look like. The blue LED is illuminated, and I can hear the fans to know that this is running, but if you turn off the fans, you can still see at a glance it is ready to go. Also, if the ports are on the other side of yours, the cable will reach, without issue.
Tt Dude is impressed with the fact that we now have more ports to play with than we started off with just the Lenovo system by itself. Using these coolers as long as I have, I instantly go for these ports with thumb drives, and have to look where they are on the laptop still, they come in very handy.
I wanted to step back a bit just to show you what the Allways Control looks like under a 15" notebook. While it will obviously still work with 17" notebooks, they will definitely hang over the sides a fair bit, just something to think about there.
As far as notebook coolers go, I am shocked a bit that such a simple idea seems to have put the Allways Control at the top of my list. Simply adding some louvers to the top of a notebook cooler is a simple idea, but with that allows you to adjust the direction, contain more of the airflow from the fans, and ultimately gives you unseen control of the air that is delivered to cool your notebook. Most coolers that I test are only good for a degree or two of temperature drop to my Lenovo. What I saw with the Allways Control under the Lenovo was that when running Prime95, I was able to reduce the CPU temperatures by a full five degrees.
Since it is essentially using mostly normal components that aren't special as far as their specifications go, something has to be helping. This is where my theory is proven that controlling the air flow out of the fan is sometimes better than adding more CFM and noise at it and hoping for the best results. In fact, even at idle, I do not hear the CPU fan cycling on and off as I used to all the time, and the fan on the cooler is more silent than what the Lenovo system offers, so I also reduced an annoyance that other coolers have allowed to happen in the past.
As hard as I try to pick this design apart, I am only left with one bit of advice for their next design. I would definitely look into adding rubber to the extendable feet in the back. Since the Allways Control is relatively light, and I used mine on a wooden desk, I found it does wander away from you in extended usage. If you allow it to lay flat without these feet, I couldn't get it to wander in normal conditions, even when sitting on glass. At this point, I am just left with the fact that from every side, with the large rubber rail at the front to keep the laptop in place, the fan controls and connectivity on the left, the louvers in the back, and the four port USB hub on the right, the Always Control has you covered from all sides with useful and handy features.
There is only one part missing from this equation. We know the Allways Control is very good with the performance levels, and we know it offers everything you will need to benefit from owning it. It is just the fact that Thermaltake has yet to set an actual price point for this cooler yet. As I said earlier though, looking at the other notebook coolers from the Allways series, if past pricing is any indication, I would expect these to hit the market with a rough MSRP of $24.99 or $29.99, and for that range of pricing this is an amazing deal.
To be honest, I would even pay more for this cooler, considering it offers better performance for my specific system, and beats out most of the other shinier, fancier, more blingy models that come at sometimes double this cost and even more. Even though it is smaller than most, lighter than most, and it won't break the bank to own one, it will be a long time before I replace mine, as it simply outperforms the others that much.
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Thermaltake responded, confirming the price will be $29.99 in the US.